Discipline #9: When the Gramps can’t say ‘no’

When we were growing up, my dad was busy working most of the time. On the occasions that we were out together and I asked him to buy me something, he would gladly do so because he wanted to see his kids happy. Now as a grandfather to my children, it is no surprise that he dotes on them, sometimes excessively.

Anything to see them smile

I still remember the first time it happened. It was many years ago and my parents had taken the 5 kids to market for breakfast. They came back and I saw one of them holding a handheld game. Then I noticed that ALL of them had one. “What’s all these?” My voice must have been raised. “Gong gong bought for us”.

I stared at my dad for some explanation. “They started arguing so to settle the problem I bought them one each. It’s just $2 anyway.” (everything to him is just $2, whether it’s actually $5 or $20!) My mum noticed the look on my face and said to me quietly. “Your dad is getting old and he gets very stressed when they bicker. Just let him be. It is no good for his high blood pressure. Let him enjoy his grandchildren.”

Things started going downhill from there. It became like a me-against-my-parents mini war.

About a year ago, #5 wanted to buy a set of LEGO Ninjago with his angpow money. I allow them a portion to spend as I wanted to teach them budgeting and delayed gratification. My dad was free to take him out and I gave him specific instructions that he was not to pay for it as #5 has his own money. He came back with the set and I thought that was the end of it.

The truth came to light when my friend brought her son over to play and she commented that they have the same set. She was lamenting how expensive toys cost, that $39 gets you a small structure and just one figurine.

Wait a minute.


I was certain the set came with 6 figurines. She insisted her set had just one. We called the boys in and lo and behold, #5 admitted that the other 5 figurines were bought separately, with gong gong’s money. And gong gong told him NOT TO TELL MUMMY. I looked at his distressed innocent face and I knew I couldn’t get angry with him. After all, it wasn’t his fault.

I had a talk with my dad and wanted to tell him that not only was he spoiling #5, but he was teaching him to lie. I expected him to feel bad about it, but guess what? He thought I was the one who was crazy!

Before I could even finish what I wanted to say, he told me that I was being mean and ridiculous and that my son is just a young boy and if that makes him happy, he should be allowed to have his toys. I was the one who needed some sense drilled into me. Unbelievable.

Over the weekend, I caught #5 secretly eating a whole tube of sweets. I asked him where did he get it from and #4 chimed in, “Of course Gong gong la. He has a whole bag of sweets.” I scolded him and reminded him about all that he went through with his teeth. I asked my dad why did he buy him so much sweets and he replied, “I did not.”

“You did not? Then where did he get the bag of sweets from?”

“Oh, he asked me for money.”


After so many years, I have finally stopped being angry with my parents for the lack of boundaries with regards to the kids. Some old folks tell me it is the parents’ job to discipline the children and the grandparents’ job to spoil them.

Ah well. I wonder what sort of grandparents we would be when it’s our turn.

Other discipline tips (which I’ve learnt after having 5 kids):

Tip #8: What do you do when your 2-year old lies?

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

30 reasons why my kid loves me

I was overjoyed to receive very sincere gifts from my kids for my birthday. #3 gave me a jar which read, “A bunch of reasons why I love you”, and she filled it with 30 little slips of paper stating why. Such a darling.

You made me who I am today.

You always let us go out with our friends.

You are very kiddy. (I’ll take it as I’m FUN)

You have cool friends.

You let us do things daddy doesn’t. (uh-oh)

You didn’t stress much on studies.

You are not a typical Singaporean mum.

You don’t care about our results. (It’s the process and progress, no?)

You raised us with proper morals.

Your cooking is still edible.

You raised an amazing kid, which is me.

I came out pretty, so obviously you must be. (woah, what a one-liner)

You are better than most mums.

You let us do a lot of crazy things.

You have nice clothes, which you don’t wear.

You raised me to be independent.

You are a cool mum (ahem. taking a bow)

You made me.

Wow. I was flabbergasted.

Have my girls really grown up? 

They attempted to create an art piece with Kate, although it did not turn out as expected. They glued the crayon sticks onto the canvass and blasted the hair dryer over it. Somehow, the crayons didn’t melt as it should. In the end, they got Kate to draw some squiggly lines. Still, I like it!

When #2 presented me her gift, I was so impressed. She made the effort to print out our photos over the years, cut them all nicely, categorise them, and stick them onto the strip. She did it on both sides and it unravels beautifully.

Handmade photo album

She went the extra mile by decorating the box, drawing on every inch of the paper and gluing it on. Can you spot the ‘happy birthday’ written on it? She folded paper hearts as a cushion for the photo roll. 100% for effort!

Personalised box

So heartening to see that all the sacrifices I have made in raising them is being appreciated.

Isn’t that all we wish for as mums?

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Kate’s antics: Flying fox

Who says a 2-year old can’t go on the flying fox?


Behind every successful toddler is a team of enthusiastic siblings / cousins.



And off they go to give her the extra boost.

Hanging on tight

Running ahead to catch her.

West Coast Park playground

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Simple fine motor activity for 2-year olds

I love finding things around the house to use as ‘toys’ for Kate to play by herself. I got an old jewellery case from one of the older girls and gathered loose buttons from the sewing box, and viola! A splendid activity that kept her occupied for half an hour.

Assorted buttons

She carefully filled the container then tried pouring the buttons back into the little box. Most of it fell all over the table and she had a nice time picking them all up. And she did it on repeat mode. Nice.

She was so proud of herself.

“Look, mum!”

After she was bored of the buttons, I brought out a box of mini pegs. If I’m not wrong, I got it from Typo. Great fine motor skills and concentration going on over there.

I was surprised she decided to use her left hand to try it out as well, even without me prompting her.

I also noticed she used both hands to get the peg in a good position, which makes it a great activity for crossing the midline, which encourages communication between the right and left brain.

I was busy doing my own thing and when she called out to me to come see what she had done, I was impressed that she put the materials together!

Sane tip: I prepare it during her nap and take it out when she wakes. I simply rotate the materials every once in a while by walking around the house and picking up suitable items.

Save tip: When I had #1, I made up most of her toys myself. As we started to have more kids, I was too busy to think about toys. I’m finding it fun again to let Kate play with such versatile materials, which is way better than mechanical toys.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Our slow June holidays

This must be the strangest June holidays ever. It’s the first time #1 is on a different school term schedule as the other 5 kids. With 1 kid ‘missing’, somehow it doesn’t feel like ‘yay the kids are all on holiday let’s go do stuff’ (even though I know that technically she’s not a kid anymore and realistically she doesn’t always want to go do stuff with us). But still.

She does have 2 weeks overlapping with her younger siblings, although the first week is mostly filled with CCA training and camp, and the second week she’s trying to get her assignments and upcoming tests settled.

I intentionally chose the first 2 weeks of the school holidays for our helper to go back on home leave and envisioned taking the kids out to do our usual holiday activities like going to the trampoline park, rock climbing, and lots of swimming and water play.

1st week of holidays

As it turned out, #3 is recuperating from her surgery and is not allowed to do anything active due to her double vision. I felt bad taking the rest for active sports without her, so we shelved our plans. Then Kate came down with a flu and I had to stay home. Which meant everyone else had to as well! 

As Kate started to recover, I wanted to ensure she did not miss her naps, which left us with a window of time between 3 – 6pm for activities, as by the time the teens woke up and were ready to start the day, it was close to her nap time. Add to that the household chores and cooking of meals, I was left with neither time nor energy to take them out.

Even though I was exhausted, I had to take one kid for their appointment almost everyday. No, not the fun sort. It was either to see the eye doctor, the podiatrist for an ingrown toe nail, another eye doctor for a second opinion, a GP for antibiotics (because of the infected toe), the dentist for braces, another doctor to follow up on a spine problem, etc, etc. As I was grumbling about how much time I’ve wasted waiting in hospitals and waiting rooms this past fortnight, #2 pointed out, “Mum, how come you are surprised. You’ve got 6 kids. Expected, right?”

Yup, right. It never rains but pours.

Our holiday has been so dull that the highlight so far was watching Jurassic World. The kids absolutely loved it. Even Kate. I tried shielding her face during the scenes where I thought she might be scared, but she kept swiping my hand away until the hubs told me to stop spoiling her fun.

Which plane is Auntie Mary on?

But you know what? When we went to pick our helper from the airport, and she was telling me how her children cried when she left, I felt so disturbed. Here I was thinking what a tough 2 weeks I’ve had (with the kids cooped up indoors, they have been getting on one another’s nerves, and mine), yet I can’t even begin to understand how it must feel for her and all the other foreign workers who are parents, to have to leave their young children behind and see them once every 2 years.

We have so much to be thankful for. Too easy to take everything for granted.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

{Interview #3} Elaine Yeo – SSO Musician

Elaine Yeo is a Musician with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO). She is the Associate Principal Cor Anglais cum Second Oboe, and has been with the SSO for over 20 years. She is married to a real estate manager and they have 2 children.

This initiative is part of our 101 Paths to Success series of interviews to gain insight into how successful people came to do what they are doing, and enlighten parents that there is a vast array of occupations for our children to discover. Hopefully it might spark an interest in our children and youths to start their journey of discerning their life’s path.

Your qualifications

BMus (Hons)

Exclusive photo: SSO rehearsal

Describe your job

As a performing musician with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), we perform in public concerts every week, usually at the Esplanade Concert Hall or the Victoria Concert Hall. We also perform at outdoor venues such as the Botanic Gardens or Gardens by the Bay. The concerts are held mostly on Friday or Saturday evenings. We start our work week on Tuesday mornings to rehearse for the coming weekend’s concert. We would typically have 4 rehearsals for each concert, with each session lasting between 4 to 6 hours.

Unlike most jobs, we don’t sit behind a desk. We bring our instrument and sit on stage with our own music stand. No reports to make, no computer work, and we don’t even use pens! But we do use a pencil to make markings on our music scores.

I take the music scores home to practice at least a week or two before, sometimes earlier, if the piece is challenging. Each musician has the responsibility to come very well prepared for the rehearsals. This means that we have to know our parts perfectly, and when we meet, the conductor’s job is to combine 95 musicians to play as one.

Tell us about your career path

Unlike many students, I knew I wanted to become a professional musician quite early on. By the time I was 16 years old, I knew I wanted to make music my career. I took Music as a subject at O Levels and then chose a JC that offered Music at A Levels, despite most of my friends going to another JC.

I wanted to be a professional oboe player. Whether I could obtain my dream at that time, I was not sure. But I practiced as hard as I could, every single day, for at least 1.5 hours, and tried to expose myself to as much music as I could.

My parents were very supportive of me, and decided to let me study oboe performance in the UK. It helped enormously that I already had an older sister studying music at that time. My parents decided that I would go to the same school so that she could ‘look after’ me in my first year. In university, I would practice for a minimum of 3 hours every day.

I was very lucky to have landed an orchestral job in my home country. There are many musicians who have to travel to foreign countries to find a job. In our orchestra, we have about 20 different countries represented. There are always more musicians looking for jobs than vacancies available.

After I graduated from the Royal Northern College in Manchester (RNCM), there was a vacancy in the oboe section in the SSO. It was perfect timing. I auditioned for the position and was accepted.

How did you find your passion?

I started music lessons at the age of 7. Like most children, I started by learning to play on the piano. In those days, opportunities to learn other instruments were few and far between. I did not enjoy playing the piano. My mother had to nag at me everyday to keep up the practice. However, if not for my mother, I believe I would have quit the piano much earlier and I really don’t know what else I would be doing today!

I believe my choice of instrument was purely by chance. When I was 13 years old, I auditioned to join the Singapore Youth Orchestra with my piano background. After I was accepted, I took up a second instrument. I wanted to play a double reed woodwind instrument as I wanted to be ‘different’. The people I knew played more common instruments like violin, flute, clarinet or trumpet and trombone. So I opted for the bassoon. But I was quite small sized at 13 years old, and you need big hands to play on the bassoon. So they told me to learn the oboe instead.

I had no idea what an oboe was or even what it sounded like! I started lessons and a year and a half later, I joined the ensemble. I even remember the day I attended the first rehearsal. I had no idea that we had specific places to sit. As I was new, I wanted to ‘hide’ and sit at the back. Unfortunately, I was told I had to sit on the first row, right in front where the woodwinds sit!

From that day on, there was no turning back. I enjoyed playing on the oboe very much, and making good music with my friends. Unlike the piano, playing the oboe in the youth orchestra gave me ample opportunity to share my interest amongst friends. Within the orchestra, we formed small ensemble groups and played in recitals and small concerts. We had so much fun. The interest in music grew from there.

Which aspect of your job gives you the most satisfaction?

We perform many concerts a year, but the performances that give me the most satisfaction are not very many. You tend to set high standards for yourself and want to get everything right. Like any piece of art form, it can always be improved upon, and success is very subjective.

When I personally feel that I have played my best in a solo, and I know the audience appreciates this, it gives me the most satisfaction. I suppose it’s like a cook – they are happiest if you enjoy eating the food they have created after hours of work in the kitchen.

What does success mean to you?

Success means that I have conveyed my love of music to others. Whether it is through performance in concerts or teaching my students. I always tell my students that I teach them to teach themselves. I try to reflect my love of music to them, and it is always a sense of achievement when you see students develop into professional musicians in their own right.

How do you balance your time between work and family?

With 2 very young children (aged 3 and 1), it can be quite difficult. Concerts are almost always on weekends. On concert nights, I have a supportive husband who helps to put the children to bed, and a capable helper who knows my kids well. Rehearsals are on weekday mornings, and I try to spend time with the children in the afternoons and evenings.

One advice to parents

Develop a love of music in children. Life would be much richer. Sometimes the instrument you have chosen for them might not be the right one. As was my case, I really did not enjoy the piano at all. But I was fortunate that my mother persevered and didn’t allow me to give it up at an early stage. I later found an instrument I enjoyed playing on and my love of music developed from there.

One advice to teens

There is a reason for learning responsibility and discipline when you are young. If you are late for rehearsals or recordings, your salary will be docked accordingly! During every performance, we have to be fully focused as there is no room for mistakes. Teamwork is crucial as every single person has their part to play in making each concert a success.

{Interviews} 101 Paths to Success

#1 – Dr Karen Crasta Scientist Associate Prof at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine

#2 – Jeremiah Choy Creative Director Sing50 Concert at the National Stadium

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

My daughter took these photos. I’m IMPRESSED

I took #1 along for the Fast Track workshop conducted by Canon Imaging Academy and she picked up way more than I did. In fact, I was stunned by the standard of her photographs. Looks really professional to me!

This post is written by her.


To get this image, I used a fast shutter speed. With a fast shutter speed, the camera is able to capture an image at a specific fraction of a second. Even though the bee is flying at a fast speed, the image is clear.

Art Science Museum

This looks suitable for SG50! The Marina Bay area is aesthetically very pretty and is an excellent place for photo shoots.

Panning shot

I have never tried taking panning shots but with the information I gleaned at the theory segment, I managed to pick it up. To achieve a clear image of the focus object, you pan the camera at the same speed as the moving object and the other still components will be blurred and your photo will turn out something like this :)))


My mum was asking the instructor how to make sense of the scenery when there are too many lines to coordinate. He suggested we focus on something special, like in this case, the LV logo, and choose 1 set of lines to anchor the photo. I used high aperture so the buildings behind are also clear.

Mirror image

I really like this convex mirror in the middle of a pond. With the aid of the mirror, you can see what is behind, which includes the buildings and the sky, yet also see the actual pond which is nicely captured in the mirror.


The architecture of the Helix bridge is stunning.


I only managed to take the first dish before my camera ran out of battery! Pity I’m allergic to prawn, but my mummy was happily savouring it.

The next Fast Track workshop is happening at the end of June. See details below.

At the end of the session, I asked Nugene, the instructor, for some constructive criticism of #1’s photos. He said, “You can open a studio for her. She has an eye for photography.”

Wow. I told her she should pursue her interest but she dismissed it by saying that the instructor was probably trying to be nice. She thinks I’m easily impressed because I’m new to photography. Anyone keen to hire her? 🙂

Here’s 6 simple yet effective tips to take better photos which I picked up from the Canon instructors.

Fast Track Workshop

Date: 27 June 2015
Time: 10am – 1pm
Fee: $88 (inclusive of 4-course lunch)

Disclaimer: We were sponsored the Fast Track program. All opinions are my own.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore

6 simple tips for better photos

I have never taken any photos in my life. That is, before I started blogging. Given my pathetic state of almost non-existent photography skill, one of the things on my agenda was to attend a basic photography course. However, I could never find time to get round to doing it (like the many other hope to do things on my KIV list).

Finally, the opportunity came knocking on my door when Canon Imaging Academy invited me to their bespoke Fast Track workshop held at MBS. I took #1 along as she has an interest in photography. For me? I was there for the 4-course lunch at HY California, and to do something fun with my 16-year old. (not easy these days to find cool things which teens are keen to attend!)

While the rest of them got acquainted with rudimentary knowledge of the technicalities of their cameras such as ISO, apertures, shutter speed, all of which was Greek to me, I was delighted that I still managed to pick up several simple yet effective general tips which I can put into practice even while using my phone to take pictures. Here’s some of what I learnt.

1. Tell a story

I never really thought about why I took photos. Well, it was definitely to keep as memories. And now as a blogger, I have to include some photos in my posts because who wants to read a whole text without any pictures to break up the monotony, right? However, to discover that a photo is used to tell a story changed my perspective instantly on what shot I wanted to capture, and what I was trying to convey. Because as they say, a picture paints a thousand words.

#1 in action

2. Patience

Being a novice photographer, I will take many shots so that hopefully 1 or 2 will turn out nice. The instructor Alvin shared with us that it takes patience to wait for the right moment, the right expression, the right lighting even, and to be ready with your camera to snap that 1 excellent shot.

3. Remove distractions

As much as possible, try to subtract distractions in the photo. While on the Helix bridge, I simply took photos with other people walking by. Nugene, the instructor, suggested I wait till there was a break and to take the photo with no other subjects in it. It makes the photo more focused, and the viewer would not have to guess what I am trying to say.

Helix bridge adjoining MBS
4. Food photography

I learnt lots of useful tips on taking food shots. I asked Nugene what to do when the food presented doesn’t look so appealing? For example, in the beef dish below, it was 2 square pieces served side to side. He suggested we turned it around and focus on the first one and use the other one as background. Looks so much better!

Panfried beef on mash

Another question I had was what if the whole dish looks rather dull (as was the chicken dish). He suggested zooming in and focusing on a specific ingredient or colour.

Grilled chicken

5. Jump shots

People these days seem to like taking jump shots. I still haven’t figured out why. Nugene taught us how to capture them jumping all at the same time without having to jump so many times that they get tired and it shows in their expressions. He said that we should give the cue to jump, but only click when we see them lifting off, not when we say ‘jump’. Haha. Worked!

Photo credit: Canon Imaging Academy

6. Find your own style

Photography is subjective. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. Some like the rule of 3s, some like the Bokeh (blur background) effect, some like it over-exposed while others like it under-exposed. He encouraged us to experiment with our cameras and to keep on practicing.

Nugene left us with the sage advice that we should not be so intent on capturing it all on camera without pausing to enjoy the moment. That is so, so, true. Especially on holidays, we are busy snapping the beautiful scenery, and when we get back, we can’t quite recall the surreal experience of being there.

#1 and I enjoyed ourselves immensely at this very unique photography course. We gained new techniques and tricks, had ample opportunity for hands-on practice with the very approachable instructors and learnt tips on food photography while sharing a delectable meal. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

These tips are just scratching the surface of what we learnt that day. Stay tuned for the follow-up post where I will showcase #1’s photographs taken at this class. I was blown away. I think I’ve found #1’s hidden talent.

Here are some upcoming sessions Canon will be holding in June. The Zoo outing sounds really good and is not too expensive, whereby you will get hands-on tips in taking photos of your child. (note: not limited to Canon users)

Family Photo Walk at Singapore Zoo

Date: 18 June 2015, Thursday
Time: 2 – 5pm
Fee: $38/pax, inclusive of 1 adult + 1 child below 15 years old (excludes Zoo entrance fee)

Compact Camera Outing

Date: 11 or 12 June 2015
Time: 2 – 4pm
Venue: Around Vivacity
Fee: $28/pax

Fast Track Workshop

Date: 27 June 2015
Time: 10am – 1pm
Fee: $88 (inclusive of 4-course lunch)

We made friends with the other bloggers and here’s a look at their posts of the event:

Claudia of The Loving Mum

Soon Koon of Lemon Film

Phoebe of BPDG Travels

Estella of So Oddly Dreamlike

Serene of xavvy-licious

Disclaimer: We were sponsored the Fast Track program. All opinions are my own.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~